In today’s marketing world Twitter is a very powerful tool used by brands to connect with their customers or, in sports marketing, with their fans.
Recently, Twitter launched a new feature that is, to be honest, way overdue. In the past, Twitter users were forced to use creative solutions when they wanted to get feedback on a certain issue from their followers. So in reality, polls in a certain way exist on Twitter for quite some time now, but “retweet/favorite” method or “hashtag” method are rather clumsy way to collect the answers and information from followers. The term “user friendly” would not be the first thing that springs to your mind when facing these methods. Actually I doubt it would ever spring to your mind. To be realistic, they were nowhere near the standard expected from one of the leading marketing social media platform. It was about time that Twitter launched a functioning solution. Only recently Twitter realized this and launched the Twitter Polls, feature which at the moment still looks like an experiment. But an experiment with a massive potential and space to improve.
Once the Twitter Polls were launched it didn’t take long for brands, and among them of course sport brands, to start using the Twitter Polls in attempt to improve their relationship with followers. The first big change that Twitter Polls will bring to the table lies in the fact that many brands are very proud of their following on social media. And rightly so. But now, with Twitter Polls, it will be easier than ever to determine, not just the number of followers, but the number of followers that actually interact with the brand on regular basis.
Asking questions has always been a good way to attract attention, not just in a marketing world. Everybody likes to give their two cents on issues, especially if they feel passionate about those issues, as fans do about their sport teams. That is why asking questions is a known way to engage fans on Twitter and other social media. Twitter Polls have made asking questions and analyzing answers easier than ever.
Twitter’s product manager Todd Sherman explained Twitter Polls following their launch:
“If you want the public’s opinion on anything — what to name your dog, who will win tonight’s game, which election issue people care most about — there’s no better place to get answers than on Twitter. For poll creators, it’s a new way to engage with Twitter’s massive audience and understand exactly what people think. For those participating, it’s a very easy way to make your voice heard.
Engagement is quite high. Novelty is undoubtedly part of it, but I expect it to be a small part. When you look at some of the polls that have gone big, they tend to be ask questions where people have real opinions, or they are jokes. From what I’ve seen, polls spur more conversations around the topic than asking the same question without a poll because people reflect on what others think.”
Twitter Polls offer the opportunity to gather any kind of information from a rather big sample of the target audience, offering the sport brands an easy way to get bigger understanding of their fans. In modern fast and make-it-easy world that we live in, there can’t be an easier way to make your voice heard then by one simple mouse click or one simple click on the smart phone screen.
As mentioned before, Twitter Polls seem to be a work in progress. They allow just questions with two possible answers, which does seem like a flaw. Even though, when you think about it, limiting the posts to 140 characters also seemed like a flaw in the beginning, but now, we got used to it, it forces creativity and doesn’t allow to bore the reader with too many needless words. Same might prove to be the case with just two answer options on Twitter Polls. Other key characteristics of Twitter Polls seem to be spot on from the start. Their 24 hour lifespan of Twitter Polls seems to have a “snapchatty” quality about it making it very millennial-friendly, which will surely receive good feedback. Even though Twitter Polls last for a day, their results, as well as number of participants, don’t disappear after that 24 hour period. During the Poll, current results are only visible to the users who answered the poll, but after the poll is finished results become public.
On the other hand votes on Twitter Polls are not public. Nobody will be able to see how a certain user voted, therefore removing the fear of public exposure or exposure to spam and therefore maximizing the number of answers in the poll.
Mari Ghuneim, vice president of digital strategy and development at truTV, explains why polls attract people and why Twitter Polls will be a success:
“We know that people love sharing their opinion. The Twitter polling tool allows us to engage followers and to gain insights into what is resonating with them. [The Twitter polls] are a great element to add to our toolkit and develop even stronger social media campaigns.”
Early success of Twitter Polls is easily visible with the Twitter account named @24HourPolls. Its “mission” is very self-explanatory. The account already gathered more than 175.00 followers, while its Twitter Polls usually receive between 20.000 and 40.000 answers, but also occasionally reaching more than 100.000 answers and hundreds of retweets and likes. What better ad for Twitter Polls can there be, and what better proof can there be that people like being asked questions since they give them a chance to share their opinions.
Twitter Polls are still much better way to gather feedback from your fans or customers than just asking a question, simple click on an offered answer is easier and therefore Twitter Poll has a better chance to receive more answers that just a simple question.
PROS AND CONS OF ANONYMITY
All of questions that are going to be asked via Twitter Polls could have been asked before, but the simplicity and anonymity of Twitter Polls makes users more likely to both create and participate in a poll.
User will like the fact that answers to the poll are anonymous, because, as mentioned before, that reassures them that brands will not be able to target them with spam based on their answers. This is a big plus for Twitter Polls, even though some are still skeptical about the anonymity. TechCrunch’s Drew Olanoff puts to words what still worries many Twitter users:
“Your participation isn’t made public to anyone and I’m told that the data isn’t being shared with marketing firms or brands. I would be really hesitant to respond to a “Coke or Pepsi” poll, for fear that I’d get spammed or targeted by either company.”
From previous experience users are skeptical about the anonymity in which Twitter reassures them. I guess only time will tell who was right on this one.
Sport brands, and other brands, will not like the fact that answers will remain private, since they will not be able to connect the answers with the individual users and create more precise data to determine their target groups for a certain campaign. But that is just a short sighted view on Twitter Polls, since they allow sport brands to gather a lot of data really fast. Data which, if the polls are conducted in the right way, can offer them a lot of information on what their fans expect from them.
As any other post on Twitter, poll can also be retweeted and pinned. When a poll is retweeted, it allows users who are not following the official Twitter account of a certain sport brand or franchise to see its poll and to answer the question poll asks. Exactly the same as a regular retweeted post, retweeted poll can also bring new followers to a certain account. Just in this case, the difference is that these new followers, that arrived via a poll will be more likely to interact with the brand.
Pinning the poll is the same as pinning the tweet, it makes a certain poll more noticeable and maximizes its “impact factor” and from that the number of answers as well.
No matter for what reason a certain user answered a certain Twitter Poll, simply for fun or because they are aware of the brand and are interested to interact with it, all of those users are the target audience because they have shown interest in interacting with this particular sport brand.
It is not news that a visually more attractive tweet will naturally attract more interest. Twitter Polls are much more visually attractive than a simple text question and therefore they are a great way to attract the attention, raise the following and get the attention of your followers that may have lost the interest.
Whenever a new feature appears on social media, it usually tends to be an exciting challenge for marketers, since an original and creative way of using that feature can go a long way. Same is the case with Twitter Polls. Questions have to be asked in such a way to attract the highest possible attention from current followers and attract the highest number of new followers. As per usually creativity will be rewarded.
Brands can from now on always get information by simply asking followers in a Twitter Poll what their expectations are on a certain issue. Every party will get a positive experience from such a Twitter Poll. Followers will be glad to contribute and have their voice heard and the brand will get a first-hand information in which direction to head next. In the end, sport brands will also raise the number of fans and their online engagement.
Fans and customers can have a very active role in content development with help from Twitter Polls. For example, asking fans which player they would like to be their guide in behind the scenes activities on the training ground or during an away trip will include fans as active contributors to the content, as video directors for a day. Oakland Raiders showed this method in their Twitter Poll.
Since the very beginnings Twitter was used as a tool to ask the followers their predictions on the outcome of events. Predicting sport results is such fun that, depending on laws, several whole industries are built on it. Missing the opportunity to attract the attention with this proven method would be a mistake. Asking fans or customers to predict game results is a proven way to attract attention, only this time, with Twitter Polls, it comes together with just another small benefit. Now it is easy to see what majority of fans predict, unlike before. I know myself with the old polling methods on Twitter, I wouldn’t know instantly if my prediction was in a majority or not. It was easy to miss when the results were finally announced and I would more often than not forget to search for those results, because with the old methods of conducting the polls, very few polls would get enough of my attention to remember them. Twitter Polls changed that. They give the current state of voting after your vote was casted, and they can inform you about the final results via notification, once the Twitter Poll has ended.
As well as prediction tool, Twitter Polls can be used to ask real time questions during the games. Asking the fans their opinion on events that happened in real time and gathering their reactions is both valuable information and a great engagement tool. This way again fans’ opinion will be easy to see for both the sport brands and the fans, without scrolling among the answers.
Twitter Polls should also from time to time be just simple fun. Asking questions about unrelated events, like asking for score predictions of important game involving a team from the same town playing another sport, asking for predictions for a popular reality show or even asking real time questions about those unrelated events, will attract attention from both set of fans, while the sport brand can get an insight in popularity of that other brand among its fans. This can be a valuable information in the future. Fun Twitter Polls can get even more silly, by asking fans whether they like dog or cats more or which meme do they prefer. That info can be used to involve winners of such silly polls into your content, like dressing dogs into team gear for every team information on a game day, or by making live tweets of a game using memes fans voted as their preferred ones. When done well, fun interactions between official brand accounts or use of popular internet trends in campaigns, tend to go viral and get big attention which is an everlasting goal in marketing.
Every brand needs feedback about products or content they already released, especially if the campaign isn’t going as well as planned. Fan can give their opinions via Twitter Polls to help the brands guide the campaign to a success. A simple opening question in such a “mission” to gather feedback can be: “Have you heard about out XYZ campaign?”. Next Poll will be based on the results of the previous one. Yes, fans and customers could always give you their feedback, but via Twitter Polls much more followers will provide their answer and it will be easier to analyze the data and decide what the next step will be.
Data gathered via Twitter Polls should never be used on big decisions. These results can help the sport brands decide in which direction further analysis of the market should go when big decisions have to be made. Twitter Polls can be used on their own when making decisions about short term promotion content that should help attract the attention from fans and customers and boost fans’ engagement with the brand. And the more questions a brand ask its fans, the more involved fans will feel and that feeling will make their involvement grow even more.
Twitter Polls can be embedded in articles and posts outside of Twitter. This gives another opportunity to gain new followers, other than by simply asking fans to follow the brand on Twitter. These type of followers will also more likely remain engaged with the brand on regular bases.
Twitter Polls can be used to finish a Twitter chat or Twitter takeover. Sport brand tend to invite players to “take over” their official Twitter account and answer questions from fans. Once this takeover is finished a Twitter Polls can be posted asking fans about impressions of this takeover or asking them about who would they like to participate in another Twitter takeover. Fans can be asked to form their questions in form of Twitter Polls, so that player can answer more questions and promote fans accounts via Twitter by retweeting their Twitter Polls on club’s official Twitter account. Fans will surely love this sort of interaction and, of course, promotion.
When I was a little kid I got a few Disney Books with bedtime stories in which you could drive the direction of a story based on your answers to short questions, to help the character make a decision. Every answer would take the reader to a specific page. I really liked how I was involved in creating my own bedtime story, so much that I still remember it, even though it was something about 20-25 years ago. True, we are not kids anymore, but then again I’m sure many grownups would happily take part in such a storytelling if Disney decided to do it now via Twitter Polls. Partly because it would bring their childhood back and partly because it is fun. Sport brands can use this style of content creation in another form of fun fan engagement. For example, I remember when NFL International series started in London and the New York Football Giants were playing against Miami Dolphins. New York Giants sent a camera crew with their cornerback Sam Madison to the streets of London and filmed his experience. With today’s Twitter Polls fans could be asked in real time what a player or a club official should do next in his “on the street adventure” as the one Sam Madison had, and involve fans in content creation in a sort of “build your own adventure”. The fact that this would be fan involvement in real time would offer a new interesting sort of fan engagement.
Sense of exclusivity is something every fan enjoys. That can be amplified with Twitter Polls. For example, during the game a prize competition can be held exclusively for fans inside the stadium. A secret Twitter account name can be created and shared on the stadium’s jumbotron. On that account fans will find a Twitter Poll and lucky fans who answer the poll can win the prize.
While we are talking about prizes, Twitter Polls can make fans involved in their prize selection. The first Twitter Poll can ask the fans what would they rather win as a price from the brand. Once that poll finishes, another poll will actually be a prize winning competition, which will now have extra hype because of attention the first poll gathered. As well as prizes, fans and customers can also be asked to vote in a Twitter Poll which discounts they would rather receive, helping a discount offering campaign to fulfill its potential.
For every business, credibility is one of the most important things, because it builds the trust of customers and fans. Twitter Polls are a good tool to build the trust of fans, because when a sport brand follows the suggestions of their fans it builds on its own credibility and when fans notice, they react very positively. Twitter Polls also give your followers an insight into your business model, without revealing too much information.
But, in the end, the best ideas on usage of Twitter Poll are surely just waiting to be created.
NO LAZYNESS ALLOWED
Even though Twitter Polls allow just two answers, possibilities are only as limited as much as creativity of the marketers.
Main advantage of Twitter Polls for followers is surely the anonymity while for marketers it is surely another opportunity to attract followers and jump out of the crowd.
Sports brands have to be careful to provide the content that fits with poll results and to provide a good ratio of new content compared to the number of Twitter Polls. Too many Polls will tire the followers and they will lose interest.
As already mentioned, Twitter Polls offer a very effective way for sport brands to engage fans, but also they have the potential to change the paradigm of popularity measurement on social media. Until now brands boasted about number of followers, even though a certain percentage of those followers were not in any way engaged with the brand. Now, brands have a very public way to measure the number of followers that are actually engaged in interaction with the brand and interested in brand’s business. This way the followers announce to the brand their interest in becoming more than a follower, a fan interested in devoting their time, and eventually money, to the brand’s campaigns.